Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are diverse and flexible non-profit organizations that work to serve their local community needs through community-based and grass roots efforts. Most CLTs have traditionally worked to develop affordable housing projects. Recently, with the “fourth wave” of the CLT movement, many organizations have expanded their focus to serve their communities through commercial development, agriculture, and open space projects. CLTs partner with other organizations, public institutions, and business in their communities to achieve their goals. Check out these examples:
Community Land Trusts working in Commercial Development
Anchorage Community Land Trust -An organization that serves Mountain View, a low-income neighborhood in Alaska’s capital. They work exclusively to acquire commercial properties for community use and also to revitalize the neighborhood by establishing a vibrant Arts and Cultural District in the formerly divested neighborhood.
Champlain Housing Trust- Responding to community need, CHT led redevelopment in the deteriorating neighborhood of Burlington, VT’s Old North End. They now own 14 commercial units that are used for community needs, such as a car donation non-profit and food pantry.
Urban Land Conservancy- A Denver-based nonprofit using real estate as a tool for community development. From their website: “In much the same way that a land trust preserves open space for future generations, we preserve real estate assets in urban areas to ensure their continued community benefit.”
One Roof Community Housing – This Duluth, MN CLT created Common Ground, a full-service construction company that specializes in rehabilitation and moderate-income construction work. By keeping the contractor in-house, this non-profit is able to mitigate their risk and keep costs down, passing this affordability on to the homeowner.
Community Land Trusts working to create/preserve Agricultural and Green Space
Farm Catskills- Farm Catskills works to keep farms affordable for farmers through innovative strategies, including community land trusts, agricultural easements, and partnerships with landowners. They also work to increase awareness in the community of the importance of farms and local food.
Southside Community Land Trust– SCLT long-term leases land at low rates to farmers and runs community gardens all over greater Providence, RI. They also provide programmatic support by delivering supplies and technical training to gardens and farms.
Athens Community Land Trust– In Athens, GA, this community land trust works to provide both affordable home ownership opportunities and affordable access to farm and community garden plots.
Sustainability as a Guiding Principal for Community Land Trusts
Many CLTs around the country hold sustainability as a guiding principal in their residential and commercial developments and agricultural activities. They may include innovative design features, such as edible landscapes, food forests, and other permaculture concepts that are intentionally and systematically integrated into a development plan.
Sawmill Community Land Trust– This Albuquerque, NM CLT integrated a community orchard for the residents of their first development, the 27-acre Arbolera de Vida. Like most other CLTs, SCLT is committed to building energy efficient homes that are not only affordable to purchase but also affordable to run.
Lopez Community Land Trust- This CLT on Lopez Island, WA has developed 5 net-zero housing projects, meaning they use less energy than they produce on site. They utilize rain water catchment, solar hot water, passive solar, and many other efficient design strategies.